I have always wanted to be a mother and knew that I would stay home with my children, if I was blessed to have any. I don’t remember ever getting any direct teaching on that. After I became a Christian and grew in the knowledge of God’s Word, I was even more committed. It surprised me that others felt differently, actually.

“I’m going to stay at home with my kids, when I’m a mom.”

“Well, then you might want to date someone else.”


“Umm… hang on a minute. Let’s talk about this.”

That is the actual conversation between myself and Paul (my now husband, but then boyfriend) over twenty years ago. Paul was (and is) a camp director and he knew that particular career is not a get rich quick (or slow and steady) plan, especially if only one camp director’s income is getting thrown into the pot.

I have always wanted to be a mother and knew that I would stay home with my children, if I was blessed to have any. I don’t remember ever getting any direct teaching on that. After I became a Christian and grew in the knowledge of God’s Word, I was even more committed. It surprised me that others felt differently, actually.

Of course, I knew some women had to work outside the home. I was not naive. Yet, I knew that being a mother and staying home with my children full time was honorable work. And that it was important. And that it made a difference.

Paul and I had quite the discussion that night. I can picture the whole scene. Where I was sitting. Where he was standing. What the atmosphere of the room felt like as soon as I said, “Ok.”

I loved Paul fiercely when we had that conversation, yet I was willing to walk away from a man who wasn’t committed to the idea of a stay-at-home-mom. That night, we talked about how standard of living greatly affects whether a woman will stay home or not. We talked about what we would be willing to do. Ramen noodles was a part of the conversation.

After seventeen years of being a stay-at-home mom, I still believe that with all my heart.

The work I do is hard. Just about every day. And it doesn’t get easier the longer I do it because the people I serve and work with and for are changing and challenging me at every new curve in the road, there is no consistency at the work place. I am just as committed, if not more so, to being a stay at home mom.

And… it hurts and offends me when I hear again and again, “Oh, you stay home with your kids. I wish I could do that, but we can’t afford that luxury.”

It often takes some serious tongue biting and prayer speaking inside my head to not ask the really hard question…

“Do you mean that you wish you could stay home with your kids, but you can’t afford it because you have to eat and have a place to live or do you mean that you wish you could stay home with your kids as long as it doesn’t change your standard of living?”

Why does that bother me? It bothers me because the mindset that I am lucky to do this completely negates the sacrifice and commitment it takes to stay home for me and for many, many other women. It’s a smack in the face to me each time a woman driving a brand new car, with expensive and sparkly new clothing, sending her kids to a crazy expensive school looks at me and says, “Oh, I wish I could stay home.”

It offends me when other women or men act like I get to stay home solely because I’m lucky.

To me, that’s like telling a doctor, “Oh, you’re lucky you can be a doctor.” Really? I’m pretty sure that doctor worked hard to get there.

I do too.

Am I lucky to stay home? I’m blessed to be able to do it, but it has always, always meant sacrifice and a standard of living most people I know aren’t willing to live.

  • We eat at home most of the time.
  • We shop at resale stores, Target clearance, and Walmart for most of our clothing.
  • We take a beach vacation with family where we stay for free and do not have to spend money on entertainment instead of destination vacations with lots of activities that cost money.
  • We lived in whatever camp housing was available, including a mobile home that was not in great shape (aka: the toilet almost fell through the floor the last year), for seven years.
  • We make most food from scratch.
  • We worked a second job as a family.
  • We buy clothes, shoes, and accessories only as necessary or prudent (or the kids buy them with their own money).
  • We cut our own hair or wait three to six months in between cuts.
  • We use birthday or Christmas gift money for treats for ourselves (special hair treatments, wish list shoes, toys, etc).
  • We use our big electricity use time during non-peak hours.
  • We usually only eat meat Paul kills.
  • And more…

Other choices women I know make so that they can stay at home with their children (these are in real life friends):

  • Use washing machine rinse water to water their yard and plants.
  • Make all cleaners from scratch.
  • Never go on family trips.
  • Give a simple gift on gift giving occasions.
  • Never buy meat for meals.
  • Forgo using air conditioning (yes, even in Central Texas).
  • Take their trash to the dump themselves instead of using a trash collection service (in the country).
  • Wash and dry to reuse Ziploc bags.
  • Have only one car as a family.
  • And more…

I share these lists to show that I (and most of my stay-at-home-mom friends) make specific choices to be able to stay home with our children. There are women who do not have to make these sacrifices, of course. Yet, they too make different kinds of sacrifices to stay at home.

I wouldn’t change it for anything. Not even for a big stinkin’ house. Seriously.

It’s been suggested, since we have been looking since March for a house to buy that is in our single income camp director budget. People that I thought knew me well have asked why I don’t just go to work so we can afford a bigger house.

Because I already have a job.

It’s not going to pay a mortgage, but it is worth much, much more than that.

And I will continue to do whatever I have to do to ensure I am a stay-at-home-mom for all of my children through their entire childhood, including more or bigger sacrifices if need be.

I pray for single moms often. I know a very sweet one (hi, C!) that is such a fabulous mother. She is intentional and devoted. I admire her greatly. I am sure that she wishes she could stay home. I pray that some day God brings her a godly man that will make that possible for her.

I pray for the working moms I know that must work, but who want to be at home. I know a couple of wonderful ones.

If you are a working mom that says this to stay-at-home-moms, consider holding your tongue and thinking about why you wish something, but it isn’t happening.

Are you one of the women that isn’t willing to change her standard of living to stay home? Well, then, be honest about that. Respect the sacrifices others make to stay home.

Are you one of the women that really does want to stay home, but that hasn’t considered really changing, possibly drastically, her standard of living so she can stay home? Pray and sit down with pen and paper and start looking at how you could change your life to make it happen.

When I stayed home, I was making more than Paul. I was a teacher for the deaf in the public school system (just finished my third year) and he was a camp director and residential treatment center administrator. I will never forget the day we turned in my notice. The look on Paul’s face reminded me of that conversation twenty years ago, but from a different angle. He was nervous and wondered how we would do it, but he was resolved.

I loved him crazy amounts watching him take that step of faith for our family. It was absolutely beautiful. It still is because he has done it each time we see a positive pregnancy test and we knew our cost of living would rise, but our standard would stay the same.

He has never wavered since that July of 1996. I am grateful and blessed for that.

I pray that God protects our commitment to me being at home by keeping Paul healthy and able to work. I know that is key.

I am grateful for how that conversation went over twenty years ago because I simply can’t imagine being married to anyone other than my camp director that treats me like a queen and loves our children in amazing ways every day.

I am grateful for the ways God has shown us we can change our standard of living every time the budget shrinks and our family expands.

I am grateful for the seventeen years I have had so far at the best job ever.

Have you ever thought about what that statement implies?


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Reposted with permission from Grateful for Grace